Graffiti on Hayward’s 880 Pedestrian Bridge

By , March 20, 2010

The pedestrian bridge crossing the 880 freeway (from Peterman Ave. to Eldridge Ave.) presents a persistent graffiti problem for the City of Hayward.  In February, I took photos of hundreds of graffiti tags on the bridge, and sent them to city staff; a few weeks later, after it had been cleaned by the city and re-tagged by vandals, I again photographed many dozens of graffiti tags, and submitted another cleanup request.

Both times, gang tags were prominent, and my worry is that the persistent graffiti sends a message to the children who must cross this bridge that the gangs and vandals are in charge, not the city. These children have little choice but to comply with any demands made by bullies and gang members.

Yesterday morning, I crossed the bridge again, just a few hours after city workers had completely cleaned the entire bridge again. Already, there were a few new graffiti tags.

Today, I crossed the bridge again and took the photographs below (click on any thumbnail to view a larger, clearer version; all these pictures are of graffiti posted in 24 hours, between noon Friday and noon Saturday).  I didn’t recognize any of this new graffiti as gang tags, but I assume those tags will re-appear by Monday.

The obvious question: what can our community do to deter or prevent vandals from “tagging” the bridge? One idea would be to invite the community (perhaps including the children at the two nearby elementary schools and the middle school) to paint murals along the entire length of both of the inside walls of the bridge and the sidewalk surface (which is also tagged aggressively), and on the fences along the paths on both sides of the bridge.  (Normally, most graffiti vandals seem to respect such art; you can see some examples in my earlier post this morning, “Deterring Graffiti: Murals and More”).  However, the immense size and surface area (and the cost of materials and the time required to properly coordinate such a large art project) makes this highly implausible. (The city is already dealing with a huge deficit.)

Another complication: state construction crews are (slowly) building a replacement pedestrian bridge as part of the 880/92 interchange project.  When the new pedestrian bridge is complete, the old bridge will be demolished — and the graffiti problem will move to the new bridge.

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